Foundation Ads Bag Big Tobacco

Follow-Up to $150-225 Mil. “Truth” Work Targets Philip Morris
By Wendy Melillo
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Launching an assault in the enemy’s camp, the American Legacy Foundation will follow the commercials that break today, in the $150-225 million “Truth” campaign, with new TV spots that “ambush” Philip Morris in front of its New York headquarters, sources said.
In one spot, body bags are pulled from a truck parked at 120 Park Avenue and stacked on the sidewalk. The other features teenagers placing Philip Morris documents in a giant shredder, in mock imitation of allegations that the tobacco giant destroyed internal memos showing smoking can cause cancer.
Sources said the spots will break sometime during the first quarter. Lisa Unsworth, evp and group director at Arnold Communications, Boston, declined to comment on the spots, as did officials at Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami. Client officials also declined comment.
Tom Ryan, a Philip Morris representative, confirmed the bags were placed on the sidewalk last week and that film crews were present. “It appears that the intent of this campaign may be to vilify Philip Morris and its employees,” he said. “We are committed to both the letter and the spirit of the Master Settlement Agreement we signed with the states.”
Under the agreement, money for the public-education campaign can “not be used for any personal attack on, or vilification of, any person, company or governmental agency.”
The launch has been mired in controversy since ABC, CBS and NBC rejected storyboards linking tobacco to safe products, such as sneakers [Adweek, Jan. 24]. Negotiations with those networks continue.
Unsworth said the campaign is divided into two tiers. The first, launching today, relays tobacco facts; the second uses teenagers’ voices to dispel tobacco myths. Teenagers play key roles in developing all the ads.
Shannon Brewer, a 15-year-old who advises the Foundation, said, “I get angry at seeing tobacco glamorized. When I see kids smoking, that angers me because they don’t have the facts they need.